Challenging a Will: Expertise of Contest Solicitors

A will is a legally binding document that is the last testament of a person, known as the testator. It outlines how their estate should be divided upon their death, naming beneficiaries to receive their money and property. The will must be signed and dated in order to be valid. If a potential heir believes that the will does not reflect the testator’s true wishes, they can contest it by seeking legal advice from will contest solicitors. However, it is important to remember that simply being unhappy about your personal outcome in the will or disappointed by someone else’s result is rarely a good reason to object. There must be a legal ground for the objection and this can be difficult to prove.

The claimant must have a vested interest in the will, meaning that they are either a spouse, child or cohabitee of the testator or someone that is expressly named in the will or previous wills. If they aren’t, their claims will be deemed to fail.

It must be clear that the testator possessed the mental capacity to make the will in question. This can be challenging to prove as it involves looking at the past behaviour and circumstances surrounding the testator’s decision to write the will or change an existing one. For example, if a person has dementia, it can be very difficult to determine if they possessed the required mental capacity at the time of writing the will.

In cases where there is evidence of fraud, undue influence or forgery a will can be successfully contested. This requires a high level of proof and it is advisable to get the opinion of handwriting experts at the outset. In most cases, forging a signature will be difficult to prove unless it is combined with other grounds such as coercion or undue influence.

Clerical errors or poor drafting of the will can also cause disputes. In this case, it is often possible to bring a claim against the will writer or solicitors for professional negligence.

It is also important to note that there are time limits on bringing a will contest claim. This varies from state to state and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.